Val D'Orica: High on Tuscany

I came to Italy's Val D' Orica for the first time with my son, Jacob, to ride horses--only to learn that the horses were too spirited for mere amateurs to ride. Since we'd signed on for a week, we had to learn how to relax. The longer we stayed in this rarified air, enjoying this spartan beauty, the easier it became. No wonder it's a UNESCO World Heritage site and a summer playground for rich people from Rome:

"Gently-rolling hills covered in the dense vegetation of vineyards, olive groves, cypresses, beech and chestnut trees alternate with Medieval habitations, rural villas and castles boasting impervious towers – all of which is diffused in a tranquilly-isolated nature. This is the scenario that is laid out before the eyes of the visitor to Val d’Orcia – just as evocative in real life as it is when depicted by the Sienese Masters." 
A photo posted by Landscapes | Travel | Animals (@naturerad) on
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Starry Starry Arches National Park

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Bluest Skies Ever: Palouse, Washington

Thunderstorm building over the Palouse, Washington State. I went to my niece's high school graduation in Rosalia. She was valedictorian and is a wonderful, beautiful girl who has already completed two years of college thanks to the Running Start program. We've had such fun watching her and sister grow up--and spend all their summers at the lake in Northern Idaho, just as we did. Both grandmas died within the past year and were much missed. Their spirits seem to hang over this place. We lived here for a few years when I was a little girl and I've always loved the high, blue skies. 
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Latest On Brock Turner Rape Case

Millions of people around the world have been following the Brock Turner, Stanford University, rape case, which has sparked a much-needed discussion on campus sexual assaults. I'm linking to the Palo Alto Weekly, which has done a great job. Click to see the latest stories, including a letter from a disgruntled juror angry over Brock's 6-month jail sentence. Convicted of 3 felony assault charges, star swimming athlete Brock could've gotten 14 years. The juror were unanimous and are furious at the judge who gave him only 6 months. He will probably serve only 3.
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Lightning In Slow Motion

I love the lightning storms that sweep the far western United States, where I've lived nearly all my life.  I couldn't really "see" lightning. It all happened too fast. Check it out in slo-mo, thanks to the magic of NPR.
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If You Wrote Game of Thrones

I saw George R. R. Martin, author of the Game of Thrones books, in Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane, Washington. "I'm a slow writer," said the Santa Fe resident. Check out this cartoon, "The Sad Adventures of sad George R.R Martin."

A photo posted by Mashable Watercooler (@watercooler) on

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Snowshoeing Up Mt. Rainier

Spring in Seattle and deep powder in the Cascades. I loved snowshoeing up to Paradise on Mt. Rainier, one of the snowiest peaks in the U.S. A sunny day with Evergreen Escapes. And, hey, Seattleites check out the wine tastings at Evergreen's Adventure Hub. The wine is made right there in Sodo and I got to hang out with my adventure colleagues there this week.

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Fast Train to Machu Picchu

Getting to the sacred shrine of Machu Picchu in Peru doesn't have to be arduous, no matter what people tell you. After acclimating in Cusco and tackling the Lares Trek with Mountain Lodges of Peru, we hopped aboard Inca Rail and rode in luxury, drinking wine and taking in the incredible sights.

This train leaves from "the ancient village of Ollantaytambo, a gem among Inca architecture, tracing a winding route along the Vilcanota river past snow-capped peaks and verdant crops until it slowly enters the enchanted rainforest that hosts the mystical Inca citadel." We arrived in Aguas Calientes, the tropical town nearest the shrine, happy and relaxed, ready to see Machu Picchu the next morning. One of the world's must-see sites, it was worth the ride.

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